Taking the Bag out of Bag Day

Now I am not suggesting we implement this, I am not suggesting this is a superior system I am just curious as to how robotics teams would react to the following changes in bag and tag rules.

The bag is replaced with the following system.
You no longer have to physically put your robot in a bag instead you weigh the robot on the night that would normally be bag and tag and record that weight you also have a copy of the bill of materials for your robot. This would go into a sealed envelope night of bagging and would not be opened until a later point where I will specify.

You now can drive, and program your robot and use it in whatever way you want between bag night and your competition. HOWEVER the only parts you are allowed to add to the robot are COMPLETELY COTS parts to REPLACE a part. Adding parts that would cause you to adjust the bill of material however is not allowed. (I’m trying to create a state in which you can only repair your robot so stop build date is preserved but you have access to the robot).

When you get to competition your robot is weighed again, and the bill of materials in the envelope is taken and incorporated into inspection. Any changes in weight between bag and now that indicate your robot is heavier subtracts from your withholding allowance. Major deviations of weight on your robot flag you for further inspection. (Really really trying to create a safeguard system).

What I think or what I have tried to just create is a system where your robot is free to access during the downtime between bag and competition. In this time using your robot is done at your own risk, if you want programmers to try different auto on it you can go for it but if in auto program causes the robot to damage itself you cannot repair it. If you want drivers to take it out for a spin for a bit of practice by all means you can do that if the driver messes up and breaks something tough luck.

If this system were to be in effect (and I know its a lot to think about) what would you do with the extra time you have on your robot?


**TL:DR If you had access to your robot in this time period after bag what would you be doing with it?
Personally I’d be going with outreach and photo shoots for web content because the robot is always a mess by the time we are done running it through competitions.

I’d be measuring it to make an accurate practice robot that could be driven and tested and broken and repaired and generally abused without risking breakage of the competition robot. I’d use the measurements to fabricate new or improved mechanisms to be part of the withholding allowance.

I’d be powering it up only to use it as a programming testbed while the drivers got full access to the practice robot.

I’d be treating it as a fragile treasure until we had permission to do work on it (either during practice day or an access period prior to competition).

More likely, I’d actually be ignoring it and catching up on sleep and chores and family time.


I’d keep it in a giant bag until competition to protect it.

yeah real talk though didn’t think the answer would be sniped that hard and that on point that quickly lol.

The nice thing about bag and tag is that it helps teams avoid mistakes. When the robot is in the bag, everyone knows they can’t work on it. If you take that physical barrier away, we’ll have all sorts of teams that had someone (like a freshman not familiar with the rules) get to the shop early and do work without someone watching them to say stop.

Plus, you’ll have variations in scale calibration - we’ll likely get different readings for every single robot when we weigh at competition, which would be a nightmare to try and untangle.

As it is, you can already remove your robot from the bag for promotional opportunities, which pretty much covers what the OP would be doing. The only difference here is that you could also practice with it, which increases the chance of something breaking without giving you the chance to fix it.

I think this is interesting because many teams don’t ever have a ‘practice robot’ and once it’s in the bag, there isn’t any more practice or build. It’s a resources-thing.

I think currently it’s conceived as a really very fair idea that you can’t make changes to the robot after it’s in the bag. All teams have the same amount of time.

But Not Really, it doesn’t work out that way. If your team has money and a practice bot and are driving it daily, breaking the weak-links, making changes to the practice-bot for weeks and then carrying in your thirty-pounds, the teams with more money, more labor (kids) and a practice robot have a huge advantage. And it gets bigger every week because those teams go to multiple regionals and make upgrades every week. Multiple regionals is also a luxury many teams don’t have.

Currently our small-town team finds that the best way to compete is play an early regional so the practice-and-perfect advantage is smaller. But when we get to Championships, we’re often really outclassed.

This suggestion is interesting because it would allow us to continue to drive the bot–and conceive of needed fixes–for the interim time.

There is also a big disadvantage to this plan. I haven’t seen my own family for six weeks and my wife would really like me home a few nights. A ‘stop build’ day forces an end to my AWOL at home. If this were enacted, we would have more weeks of every-evening in the shop. I don’t know how the teams with multiple robots and multiple regionals ever get their lives back to normal. They never stop building!

I hadn’t thought about social media upkeep and web content upkeep as promotional but I suppose it is.

Apparently this dead horse needs another beating, so here goes.

To the teams who are smart enough and well funded enough, the bag is nothing more than a nuisance. And a nuisance I could honestly do without. If FIRST’s intent is to keep the current structure, I’d be quite happy with instead locking the robot in an unused room by itself, rather than putting it in a bag. The bag just makes transporting it dangerous and difficult.

Yeah the horse is dead as can be but I’m more curious as to what people would do with it, I mean having an option is cool but seeing how different people take advantage of the situation is also cool. I’ve always wanted to pose this question in as neutral of a tone as possible cause generally the threads that talk about this get heated too quickly for this kind of question to be put out there.

I think we should put the robot in a large crate, and ship it to a secure location where it is then transported and loaded into the venue for us.

I think we should have to strap rockets to our robot and send it to an undisclosed holding facility on the moon. Who’s with me?

Only if we do it with Kerbal Space Program.

Remember the TLDR here is not bagging is good or bad, the question is what would you do (if anything) if you had time with the robot per the specified situation.

We have the conversation about the pros and cons of bagging all the time and I know how to use google so that isn’t what I am asking. I am asking for what you would do in this situation.

I am!

I would rather keep the bag versus that. How do you make measurements of the robot when working on the 30 pounds that are unbagged?

Or, they could leave it in the bag until the night before competition, then we transport the robot to competition unbagged.

Just thinking.

The biggest glaring flaw with is that now schrodingers cat may or may not be in the box working.

I perfer Space Engineers.

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I was talking to a friend about something similar to this the other day, however, there are teams that make a practice bot that allows even more capabilities such as more prototyping and such. It would be nice to check measurements or fix broken electronics, and I do have a love/hate relationship with that bag. Even so, I don’t feel that there is much difference, plus weighing and measuring and doing all those things will take even more time than placing into a bag and tying it up. Maybe if it was an option to do one or the other, that way it was a preference type of thing.

With this said situation, I think our team would be doing almost only auto practice. We built our practice robot and competition robot “identical” again this year. Just like last year, they look exactly the same and everything is a duplicate of the other, but they still aren’t the same. They are close enough in the aspect of driving in teleop but in autonomous are just enough off. Basically, doing auto practice would make our autonomous codes a whole lot more precise.